America at the Crossroads

Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy

Francis Fukuyama; With a New Preface by the Author

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March 20, 2007
264 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
1 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300122534
Paper

Also available in:
Cloth

Francis Fukuyama’s criticism of the Iraq war put him at odds with neoconservative friends both within and outside the Bush administration. Here he explains how, in its decision to invade Iraq, the Bush administration failed in its stewardship of American foreign policy. First, the administration wrongly made preventive war the central tenet of its foreign policy. In addition, it badly misjudged the global reaction to its exercise of “benevolent hegemony.” And finally, it failed to appreciate the difficulties involved in large-scale social engineering, grossly underestimating the difficulties involved in establishing a successful democratic government in Iraq.
Fukuyama explores the contention by the Bush administration’s critics that it had a neoconservative agenda that dictated its foreign policy during the president’s first term.  Providing a fascinating history of the varied strands of neoconservative thought since the 1930s, Fukuyama argues that the movement’s legacy is a complex one that can be  interpreted quite differently than it was after the end of the Cold War. Analyzing the Bush administration’s miscalculations in responding to the post–September 11 challenge, Fukuyama proposes a new approach to American foreign policy through which such mistakes might be turned around—one in which the positive aspects of the neoconservative legacy are joined with a more realistic view of the way American power can be used around the world.   

Francis Fukuyama is Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy and director of the International Development Program at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. He has written widely on political and economic development, and his previous books include The End of History and the Last Man, a best seller and the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Critic Award.

"In this important and clear-sighted book, Fukuyama offers one of the best available concise histories and explanations of the neoconservative movement and its chief ideas, places himself firmly within that movement, and then goes on to register his strong and passionate dissent from the interpretation of the neoconservative approach to foreign policy that characterized George W. Bush's first term. . . . Fukuyama is better able than most to sketch the basic outlines of what he hopes will become a major new pole in American political discourse."—Walter Russell Mead, Foreign Affairs

 

“Neoconservative scholar Fukuyama has just produced a book renouncing his previous support. . . . Fukuyama’s sharpest insight here is how the miraculously peaceful end of the cold war lulled many of us into overconfidence about the inevitability of democratic change, and its ease.”—Andrew Sullivan, Time

"Mugged by reality in Iraq, a prominent neocon breaks with his ideological allies."—Benjamin Healy and Benjamin Schwarz, Atlantic Monthly

"Fukuyama's America at the Crossroads is the best explanation anyone's come up with yet as to why the Bush administration has made such a mess of things in Iraq."—Jacob Weisberg, Slate

“Fukuyama is always worth reading, and his new book contains ideas that I hope the non-neoconservatives of America will adopt.”—Paul Berman, New York Times Book Review

"This leading public intellectual has second thoughts—and a new plan. . . . [Mr. Fukuyama] came to the conclusion that 'the war didn't make sense.' . . . [He] is a public intellectual of the first rank. . . . As for Mr. Fukuyama's objections to the war, most of them are familiar, though they do have the virtue of being put with great clarity, sophistication and nuance."—Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal

 

“Fukuyama’s book is elegantly and concisely argued. His call for ‘realistic Wilsonianism’—a mixture of realism, which seeks only to advance the national interest, and idealism, which holds that the United States should pursue democratic and humanitarian goals—is just right.”—Alan Wolfe, Chronicle of Higher Education

“ For anyone interested in the neocons’ history and prospects...a superb guide to this intellectual battleground.”—Philip Seib, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

"The real man-bites-dog story comes when a self-proclaimed neoconservative, a genuine Middle East hawk, decides that the war was a mistake. . . . Fukuyama . . . one of the most prominent neoconservative policy intellectuals . . . now believes that the Iraq war was a mistake, and that his neoconservative comrades have permanently discredited the label. . . . [A] thoughtful book. . . . A lucid and sensible discussion of the intellectual origins of neoconservatism."—Adam Kirsch, New York Sun

"Parting ways with fellow neocons, Fukuyama censures their blunders and those of the Bush administration, and offers advice for the future."—New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)

“Fukuyama’s book considers conflicting neoconservative principles and offers a reconciliation of neoconservative thought with a wider worldview, making this a timely book that’ll spur more than its share of discussion.”—Publishers Weekly

 “This important, and insightful book is much more than a tell-all memoir of self-discovery. Fukuyama demolishes some of the central tenets of neoconservativism that led to the debacle in Iraq, but he also sets forth an alternative vision, one that he sees as both more consistent with American values and more likely to succeed in an international environment deeply skeptical of American power.”—Christoper Preble, The American Conservative

“Fukuyama sees the Iraq war not simply as a failure of planning or imagination, but as a repudiation of the thinking of the neoconservative intellectuals with whom he has for so long associated himself. . . . Fukuyama's history of neoconservatism is both concise and extremely helpful. . . . In the end, America at the Crossroads lays out a vision for the future of American foreign policy that progressives would be smart to embrace.”—Isaac Chotiner, Washington Monthly
 

"[A] sober, fair-minded [book]."—Gary Rosen, Washington Post Book World

"In his new book, America at the Crossroads, Francis Fukuyama, perhaps the movement's most outstanding intellectual force, confirms his defection from the brand concepts of  'pre-emption, regime change, unilateralism and benevolent hegemony as put into practice by the Bush administration."—Guy Dinmore, Financial Times
 

 

“This is a sane and sober book, marked throughout by wise admonitions to caution and temperance.”—Robert Westbrook, Christian Century

"America at the Crossroads is a tightly woven, highly personal, and articulate critique of Bush's foreign policy agenda and its connection with neoconservative thought. . . . Fukuyama's book is definitely worth reading for all military and security professionals."—MAJ Prisco R. Hernándex, Military Review

"This book offers useful insights into the internal contradictions within and among conservative policymakers."—Jonah Goldberg, Azure

"Written before the watershed 2006 election, this book lays out why neoconservative foreign policy, which drove the United States to invade and attempt to remake Iraq, has run its costly, failed course and should be discarded."—Jane Henderson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Once a neoconservative himself, the author indicts the Bush administration for its war in Iraq and for what he calls the neoconservative idea of ‘benevolent hegemony.’"—Denver Post

"America at the Crossroads presents a compelling critique of neoconservatives, the Bush administration, and the war in Iraq. It also offers hope for the future. There is a sizable audience for both the bad and the good news Fukuyama has to offer."—Ira Smolensky, Magill's Literary Annual

"Fukuyama offers an excellent book that draws focus to the idea of America's future role as the sole superpower."—Youssef About-Enein, Armor

"Francis Fukuyama here gives the most lucid and knowledgeable account of the neoconservative vision of America's place and role in world affairs, and where it has overreached disastrously. He argues effectively for an American foreign policy more aware of the limits of American power, less dependent on the military, and more respectful of the interests and opinions of other countries and emerging international norms and institutions."—Nathan Glazer, Professor of Sociology and Education Emeritus, Harvard University   

America at the Crossroads serves up a powerful indictment of the Bush administration’s war in Iraq and the role that neoconservative ideas—concerning preventive war, benevolent hegemony and unilateral action—played in shaping the decision to go to war, its implementation and its aftermath. . . . [It] represents the latest and most detailed criticism of the Bush administration’s war in Iraq—delivered from a conservative point of view. . . . [A] tough-minded and edifying book.”—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
 

Selected as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2006 by Choice Magazine

Named one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year (2006) by the New York Times Book Review

Named one of the Best Books of 2006 by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Selected as a 2007 AAUP University Press Book for Public and Secondary School Libraries.